Justin Wood

October 14, 2012

The New Aesthetic/New Space

by jdubz / blog

What we are really talking about is a new spatial dimension in contemporary art. The physical world is no longer sacred. Artists now have access to trans-dimensional techniques and technologies, and we know how to use them. We are acting between the physical and digital and changing the perception of both realms.

I see three major elements coming together.

1. We have a generation of artists coming to age that have matured along with the evolution and exponential explosion of consumer digital technology. While we were exposed to computers and video gaming early on in our lives, we still have attachments to the last vestiges of the pre-omnipotent cloud society. From the rotary phone, to touch tone, to cordless, to a car phone, to a pager, to a cell phone, to a smartphone. From buying records, to tapes, to CD’s, to mp3’s, to spotify. We have grown up with and carefully observed this rapid expansion but are lucky enough to retain a collection of the last human memories before the internet. The explosion of the internet is a pivotal point in human history. A new year zero. It can’t be overestimated. And we lived the transition. So while we may be digital natives, more or less, we still came of age before the internet.

2. Affordability. Technology is disposable. Artists can afford to experiment with advanced technology and the possibilities expand with each breakthrough and each software update. We get better technology faster and cheaper than ever before. New happens every day.

3. Accessibility. We can use this shit. The software developers are driving new trends in contemporary aesthetics by tackling huge programming challenges and then delivering these tools in an accessible format that artists can utilize with intuition and ease. They have created an environment where the average computer user has the basic skills to utilize incredible technology. We get better stuff, faster, cheaper, and more easy to use than ever before.

This is just the beginning. We are witnessing the very primitive state of the next epoch in art history. It is our duty, as artists who lived the transition, to bring the authenticity that exists in a tangible object into the art of the purely digital. In order for people to fully embrace the next generation of art, it must first overlap and coexist with the art that we are used to, for lack of a better phrasing.

The aesthetics of the now and the technology of the near tomorrow.

The aesthetic of the screen:  People look at screens all day long.  They sit at a computer all day, they are on their smartphone constantly, at home they stare at an lcd tv and when they go out they are staring a digital projection at a movie theater.  We are sucked into screens.  Increasingly bus ads, billboards and fast food menus are digital screens.  At concerts, almost every act now has screen-based stage production.   We get most of our information through the medium of screens.  The aesthetic of the screen is important to contemporary society.  The art of now not only channels the high contrast, high vibrancy grid-based images of the screen, it uses screens themselves as the raw material for artwork *.

3d printing has entered the artworld in a big way.  Instead of carving stone, artists are creating virtual objects and having them rendered into existence via 3d printers.  This will only increase as this printing technology becomes cheaper and 3d rendering applications easier to use.

Projection mapping is a huge part of what is happening right now.  The techniques of mapping are getting more accessible by the moment.  Via a digital light projection, we are able to render the physical meaningless.  The physicality of the object is called into question asking the viewer if it is light or the object that is truly present.  You see this through countless examples of architectural mapping and through stage production such as Iman Tobin’s ISAM.

Soon artists will have access and dominance over the Holo-2Pac type technology.  We will enter an era where physical sculpture, video projections and holograms co-exist to create truly trans-dimensional experiences.  We are moving rapidly towards the full consciousness simulation.   We will drop algorithms like acid.

Humans must first experience the dirty interface between the physical and digital before we completely detach from the physical world.  The 4D Spiderman ride at Universal Islands of Adventure is possibly the finest example of the interface between the digital and physical as I have experienced in terms of a total mind fuck. The ride uses car motion, 3d projections, heat, wind, water, physical sets and physical animatronics to put the rider into an insane state of reality. This is the physical and digital interface gone gonzo. This kind of technology will soon be in the hands of contemporary artists and the kinds of experiences we will be able to create will be unlike anything that humanity has ever seen. Not a new way to look at old things but a complete detachment from the laws of the physical world.  Metaphysics rendered experiential.

We are the last artists from the era started by cave painting and we are the first artists of the era of total digital immersion reality.  It is our duty to create work that ultimately bridges the gap and exposes the overlap between the caves and the virtual, drawing each into each other in a way that feels authentic to prior generations while remaining relevant to current and future generations.